Thursday, June 5, 2014

Moderating the MFRW Facebook Group: Technical Functionalities #MFRWorg #MFRWauthor

I’m going to get a little technical today and discuss a few of the functions and features of groups on Facebook and how both members and moderators may use them or how they may affect how groups operate. I’ve mentioned in this series how much the MFRW Facebook group has grown over the last year (to sum up: when I started moderating last May, we had several hundred members. We reached 1,000 sometime that summer, and our current count is at 3,658). To be clear, I myself don’t personally do anything that influences this growth. I, as I have described in my other posts, receive and moderate the join requests, but I have no control over how many people ask to join.

A big contributor to that, I suspect, is the addition last year of Facebook’s “Suggested Groups” feature. If you’re on Facebook, you may have noticed the appearance of this list along the right side your profile. I noticed a significant upsurge in join requests when this happened, and I have no doubt this feature has resulted in far more members' learning of MFRW and joining the group than would have otherwise. I have a feeling it also, however, means people request to join without even looking at the group or having much of an idea what it’s for (which, in MFRW’s case, affirms the importance of member screening). If you’re a moderator, you may just want to be aware that people may be clicking on a suggested group without ever having visited the group’s actual page.

As far as I’ve determined, there isn’t a way to control or influence how much or where one’s group shows up in the “Suggested Groups” list. There is, however, a functionality called “Tags” that moderators can utilize. If you moderate a group, there is a link on the right side of the group page just below the “About” section that says, “Set Tags.”

Tags do not get to be whatever you want them to be. Rather, only words/phrases that Facebook provides via auto-fill may be selected. For example, I wanted to tag the MFRW group “Author Resources,” but Facebook didn’t have a category option for that, so it simply erased the tag when I saved it. I thus settled on the less specific categories of “Writing,” “Marketing,” and “Books.” This will at least give someone who glances at them an idea about the group’s focus. As far as how tags might affect a group’s popularity, we’re new enough to using this feature that I haven’t had a chance to observe any potential outcomes yet. I’ll report back if I see anything notable. ;)

Search functions are another area both members and moderators may find helpful at times. If you’re a group member, you can pull up a list of your activity (including posts and comments—“Likes” are not included in the search results) on a particular group by clicking on the magnifying glass icon all the way to the bottom right of the group page’s header (it’s just to the right of the “Notifications”/“Create Group”/settings buttons and icons) and entering your profile name. All the things you’ve posted, as well as posts on which you’ve commented or in which you’ve been tagged, will be brought up for display. This feature may seem useful if, like myself, you’ve been known to forget from time to time whether you’ve already posted something on the group page (lol). You can also do similar searches for other members’ activity.

If you want to simply see whether someone is a member of a group (who may or may not have performed activity in the group, making the above search method not helpful), you can do that by going to the “Members” tab along the horizontal menu bar beneath a group’s header photo. With this function, you can sort the members by name (alphabetically by first name/word of profile name) or by join date. As a moderator, I like the sort-by-join-date feature because it allows me to keep track of how many members have joined within a certain time period (though this is not exact in that the labels don’t have actual dates but rather indicate that someone was added “a month ago,” 8 months ago,” “2 weeks ago,” etc. When I want to keep track month by month, I make a note of the last name I approved on the last day of a month and then use that as the cutoff when I check the list the next month). For example, since my last post here about moderating this group, about 325 members have joined.

If you’re a group moderator, this search function also gives you the option of viewing your list of blocked members. Mine isn’t very long, but I have blocked a few profiles I determined to be spam, etc. On this list, there is a link associated with each profile that says “Remove Ban” if you change your mind about blocking someone or allowing someone to join.

And thus ends this tour of Facebook group technical characteristics. ;) Thanks for reading, and see you next month!

Emerald is an erotic fiction author whose short stories have been featured in anthologies published by Cleis Press, Mischief, and Logical-Lust. She serves as an assistant newsletter editor and Facebook group moderator for Marketing for Romance Writers (MFRW), and she selects and posts the monthly inspirational quote on the MFRW Marketing Blog. Find out more about her at her website, The Green Light District.